Birdy News Bits for November 2016
by Keith Hackland (email@example.com)
published November 2017
November is a big month in the Valley for
birders because it offers really great birding,
and that is why the 22 year old Rio Grande
Valley Birding Festival is held in early November
annually. The Festival attracts hundreds of
birders to its field trips, talks, and trade show.
It also brings over eighty of the country's top
birding guides to the Valley to lead the popular
For local residents the trade show 'Birders
Bazaar' and talks are a big draw. Over one
hundred exhibitors draw thousands to the trade
show where birding and outdoor gear, birding
opportunities, art, photography, books, travel,
and birding destinations from around the world
are showcased. There is no entrance fee, but
there should be, because it would be a bargain
at $20 with all the great exhibits.
In the exhibit hall and a part of 'Birders Bazaar'
Jonathan Wood will have his impressive
collection of raptors
on display, and as
a falconer he puts
some of the birds
through their paces
twice daily, flying
them over the crowd
as he speaks about
their natural history. He is not only a licensed
falconer, but he also rehabilitates raptors, and
so those he has on show are rescue birds that
cannot survive in the wild. Come see his birds.
SOUTH TEXAS GUIDE TO BIRDING
Edited by Nancy Millar and Published by
South Texas Nature,
this where to bird in
South Texas book is
just out and is available
free at participating
the Valley and at the
Alamo Outdoor Store
With site research
by Mary Gustafson
and featuring the
photography of Clay
Taylor, Steve Sinclair,
and Raul Delgado,
it provides information
of the best birding
hot spots in twenty
the Valley and along the coast all across South
Texas. Pick up a copy while they are available.
A Variegated Flycatcher showed up for the
first recorded time in Texas at the Birding and
Nature Center on South Padre. It was discovered
on September 28, and
stayed for some ten days. It
is the seventh U.S. record for
this tropical species. Birders
flew in from around the U.S.
to see it and it made the news
in "The Monitor" and other
newspapers. I was one of the
lucky birders to see it, and as
it turned out, one of the last three birders to see
it before it departed for a new destination. Sunday
evening two birders watched it with me at
its usual locale in front of the Birding and Nature
Center from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm. It was
active and catching lots of bugs, preparing for
the next leg of its secret journey.
On the railing of the blue water tower close
by a Peregrine Falcon hung out, but they generally
chase down and eat ducks and larger birds
than this small flycatcher, and they do not hunt
at night. So I am sure the Variegated Flycatcher
simply moved on down the flyway.
Currently there is a juvenile Crimson-collared
Grosbeak hanging out at the Sheepshead
Road wooded lots on
South Padre Island. Guests
who flew in from Georgia
saw it this evening. This is
a tropical bird that shows
up quite often in the Valley.
It enjoys wild fruits,
such as the yellow berries
on the Potato tree that
grows in protected areas around the Valley.
A juvenile Northern Jacana, a wader, is being
seen at Pintail Lake at Santa Ana National
Wildlife Refuge south of
Alamo. It is another tropical
bird that shows up regularly
in the Valley and is
popular with visiting birders,
and with its black, red
and yellow markings it easily
What are vagrants?
Birds migrate and young birds explore, leading
them sometimes into new territory, where
birders call them vagrants, because they are
rare or unusual visitors.
The Valley is one of the top spots for vagrants
in United States. When there are more
birders out there more vagrants are discovered,
meaning that there are doubtless more vagrants
around than we know.
Every November the RGV Birding Festival
brings over 80 of the county's top birding
guides to the Valley to lead its tours, and consistently
every year this is the time when many
vagrants are discovered by the guides. So stay
tuned for more unusual birds in November.